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HARBOR PORPOISE TAKE REDUCTION PLAN

The Plan

On September 11, 1998, NOAA Fisheries Service published a proposed rule to implement the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Plan (HPTRP). The HPTRP was developed to reduce interactions between harbor porpoises and commercial gillnet gear capable of catching multispecies in both the Gulf of Maine and the Mid-Atlantic.

A proposed rule for the Gulf of Maine only was published earlier (in August 1997). The September 1998 proposed rule replaced the earlier proposed rule and offered the first harbor porpoise TRP regulations for the Mid-Atlantic coastal waters.  

On December 1, 1998, NMFS published a final rule in the Federal Register to implement the HPTRP. Subsequent to the final rule publication, a correction notice to the final rule was published on December 23, 1998. In addition, a final rule was published on January 11, 2001 to modify the list of exempted waters to include all of Delaware Bay.  

The initial HPTRP achieved the immediate goal of reducing takes of harbor porpoises to levels below the Potential Biological Removal (PBR). PBR is defined as the number of human-caused deaths the stock can withstand annually and still reach and maintain an optimum population level.  The HPTRP did not achieve the long-term goal of achieving a zero serious injury and mortality rate, known as the zero mortality rate goal (ZMRG), required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Specifically, harbor porpoise bycatch levels, rather than approaching ZMRG, showed an increasing trend after 2001 and again exceeded PBR beginning in 2004.  

NOAA Fisheries Service determined that the increase in harbor porpoise bycatch in gillnet fisheries was due to two factors: bycatch occurring outside of HPTRP management areas and noncompliance with existing HPTRP regulations in the New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions.  

NOAA Fisheries Service reconvened the Harbor Porpoise Take Reduction Team (HPTRT) in December 2007 to discuss the increase in harbor porpoise bycatch and develop recommendations for modifying the HPTRP to reduce bycatch to acceptable levels. Based on the recommendations received from the HPTRT, NMFS published a proposed rule to amend the HPTRP on July 21, 2009.

On February 19, 2010, NOAA Fisheries Service published a Final Rule amending the HPTRP that included an expansion of current HPTRP requirements, new management measures (including a consequence closure area strategy), and increased enforcement and monitoring efforts. The Rule also established a scientific research provision and incorporated a number of necessary technical corrections to the regulations that had been identified since implementation of the HPTRP in 1998. This Final Rule was largely based on consensus recommendations provided by the HPTRT to NOAA Fisheries Service.

Quick Links

Affected Fisheries

  • Northeast Sink Gillnet
  • Mid-Atlantic Gillnet

 

A. 1998 HPTRP Implementation Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Final Draft Gulf of Maine Take Reduction Plan N/A August 7, 1996
Environmental Assessment N/A November 24, 1998
Final Rule 63 FR 66464 December 2, 1998
Correction Notice 63 FR 71041 December 23, 1998

 

B. 2001 Exemption of Delaware Bay Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Change to the list of Exempted Waters 66 FR 2336 January 11, 2001
Environmental Assessment N/A August 2000

 

C. 2009 Proposed Rule Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Draft Environmental Assessment N/A March 2009
Proposed Rule 74 FR 36058 July 21, 2009
Proposed Rule Figures 74 FR 36058 July 21, 2009
Press Release N/A July 22, 2009
Proposed Rule Correction 74 FR 39910 August 10, 2009

 

D. 2010 Final Rule Key Documents

Title

Federal Register

Date

Final Environmental Assessment N/A September 2009
Final Rule 75 FR 7383 February 19, 2010
Press Release N/A February 18, 2010
Delayed Pinger Effective Date Final Rule 75 FR 12698 March 17,2010
Supplemental Environmental Assessment N/A February 2010
Monitoring Strategy N/A April 2010
Consequence Area Closure Information N/A N/A

 
     

E.  2013 Final Rule Key Documents

   

Title

Federal Register

Date

Proposed Rule 78 FR 52753 August 26, 2013
Final Rule 78 FR 62821 October 4, 2013
Draft Environmental Assessment N/A August 2013
Final Environmental Assessment N/A September 2013